Advocacy and lobbying are central to being an informed and active participant in government. We've filled this page helpful information, resources, guidelines, training videos, and tools that will help you become a better advocate for yourself, your community, and the League.
The questions you need to ask yourself in order to be an advocate in the name of League of Women Voters
Who Owns the Action and Creates the Strategy
League Boards take responsibility for all strategic planning in terms of actions taken on issues, but at the appropriate levels of government. In other words, the League Board at the level of government where action is needed is the strategic planner, message writer and advocacy initiator. While positions can be used at levels at and below, actions can only be taken at the level of the particular Board of Directors. To take action at a level of government above, permission must be obtained.
Positions apply downward. At the local level, Leagues can take action using any and all positions from the national level on down. Positions never apply about the level of government at which they were studied.
A special group of issue specialists operate in the name of League at the state level. There are also issue committees.
A primer on how the legislative process works. When understood, an advocate knows when and where to voice support or opposition.
This is a great chart that outlines the whole process. The best part is helping to understand the ways and places bills can die.
Learn the protocols for advocating at the state level.
In Ohio, we go through the budget process every 2 years. The state budget is a tool that can help eliminate inequities and boost opportunity for all Ohioans.
How You Can Create Change
One of the most important points of engagement during the policy process occurs at the committee level. When a bill is in committee, any person who wishes may submit written and/or oral testimony in support of, or in opposition to the proposed legislation. Committees require that your written testimony be submitted to the committee chairperson at least 24 hours prior to the start hearing, and that a witness information form be submitted along with your testimony.
Sign up for legislative committee list-serves to receive email updates related to committees, including time, location, and agenda of scheduled meetings. You can contact the committee chair’s office to be added to the committee email list. This will let you track bills moving through the committee process and provide information about how to submit and present testimony when appropriate. Some committees require testimony be submitted at least 24 hours in advance of the hearing, others have different deadlines and requirements; if this information is not laid out in the committee announcement, you can contact the chair’s office and ask their staff.]
State Representatives’ email addresses are standard: RepXX@ohiohouse.gov, where XX is their two-digit district number (e.g. 01, 02 ... 10, 11, etc.). State Senator email addresses are typically email@example.com (unless there is more than one senator with the same last name or the last name is common.
Letters to Editors and Op-Eds
Opinion sections are among the most read sections in the newspaper - they are a great way to educate the public, and legislators often read the Opinion section to get a sense of what their constituents are passionate about.
How to write LTEs and Op-Eds Newspapers publish Letters to the Editor (LTEs) and Opposite the Editorial (Op-Ed) pieces as a space for public debate on opinions or to discuss issues missed by the regular news. They should be written with a clear opinion to be chosen by the editor of the paper. Opinion sections are among the most read sections in the newspaper - they are a great way to educate the public, and legislators often read the Opinion section to get a sense of what their constituents are passionate about. Tips for Writing Letters to the Editor Before you begin writing Pay attention to submission requirements (word length, how to submit). Letters to the editor (LTEs) are typically short pieces (
Meet with Legislators
Few people choose to meet with their legislators. You will make a strong impression simply by taking the time to engage with them on issues that matter to you. By doing so you represent your cause, your organization, and WHY they should listen to your expertise and experience.
Setting up an Appointment with a Legislator
All advocacy begins with relationships and education. Local Leagues keep asking for more on how to advocate in a meaningful way. On any level, it is a matter of building credible relationships. At a state level, it is also about speaking with one voice. The Local League is very important in an overall strategy for advocacy at a state level. Legislators want to hear from their own constituents, and not just when they want specific action on legislation. We are at the start of a new General Assembly. It is the perfect time to start a working relationship with legislators, whether new or veterans, by conversing about priorities and plans. Knowing their priorities helps in approaching legislators on issues, finding out how we can help with some legislation or where we need to do a little more education. 1. Making the appointment: You will get more time if you treat this as a regular League meeting to which you are inviting your legislator. Email with a follow-up phone call to make arrangements for Zoom meeting. If you do not hear back in 24-48 hours, call again. The ask: With the start of a new General Assembly, it is important to learn more about the people who represent us in Columbus. Our League would like to hear about your priorities. We would also like to dialogue about some issues that are important for us. This is just a getting to know you better meeting. 2. Once you have an appointment: Decide on type of meeting: open to small group who will then be ready to follow through or a more general meeting. Don’t be afraid to just hand pick a small group based on interests of your League. Decide who introduces the meeting with a review of its purpose. Make sure group understands ahead of time that this is an informational meeting, not a confrontation or debate. You are trying to establish a relationship through civil dialogue. Do some research ahead of time: family, issues of interest, something they have sponsored in the community… Show that you value them personally. Decide on who will ask what questions. Set an agenda with time limits for each topic and stick to it. You might practice how to make it more of a conversation on each issue. Make sure you are familiar with the most important of our positions. Know who is taking notes. 3. The meeting: Start with a thank you for agreeing to meet. Relate to the legislator in some way: comment on something they have done or ask about their children or an issue that you know is of interest. Start by asking what committees they will be serving on if you don’t know yet. Or you can comment on the importance of some leadership position that they hold. First questions should be about their priorities! If some of their priorities correspond with League positions, you can start a dialogue. If asked about where League stands on something, if you don’t know or are not sure, don’t be afraid to say you will get back with an answer. Based on the points shared, talk about how that matches or doesn’t match League positions and/or priorities. Take some time to make sure you discuss the priorities of League. (Please note that while these items are generally listed by priority for the League, you will only have time to discuss one or two of them and priorities to be discussed may differ based on a number of factor including your local League and the current political climate. Increasing voter accessibility, security, and accuracy. Gerrymandering/redistricting Transparency in government Money in politics Education finance/Fair Funding Environment Health Equity Thank the Senator or Representative for taking time for this important discussion. 4. After the meeting, Send a thank you note. Follow up with any materials you deem important. 5. Keeping the relationship going Pay attention as the General Assembly is in session to what is being supported ot opposed by your legislators Drop them an email every once in awhile with a comment If you see them sponsor a bill of interest, refer to comments from your meeting with them in your ask on the legislation Visit them during home office hours Arrange another meeting to follow up with bills that are moving
LWVUS Resource Guide for Observing Your Government in Action : A great general guide that includes the importance of Sunshine through getting an Observer Corps up and running
Law in Ohio: Ohio’s public records and open meetings laws, collectively known as the "Sunshine Laws," give Ohioans access to government meetings and records.
Yellow Book: The Sunshine Laws Manual, also known as the "Yellow Book," provides summaries of Revised Code provisions and case law regarding the Ohio Public Records Act and Open Meetings Act.
Sunshine Law Videos: To assist and educate members of the public in understanding and accessing Ohio's Sunshine Laws, the AGO has developed several informational videos on the topics about which they frequently receive questions.
Videos from Our YouTube Channel
Leveraging the Press and Media to Further Advocacy with Kayla Vix (November 17, 2020)
The Ohio Legislature Website Training (October 10, 2019)
The Intersection of the State Budget and Social Justice - And update on the policy priorities of LWV Ohio during the 134th General Assembly
Lunching with the League Series In 2021, League had a series of virtual lunches with transformational leaders in government, advocacy, social services, healthcare, education, justice, and more. Videos offer insight into the why and how of policy.
Track and Observe Legislation
The 135th General Assembly: Contains the names and information of all Ohio legislators in the 134th General Assembly in one spreadsheet.
A Guidebook for Ohio Legislators published by the Legislative Service Commission. For additional, more in depth information on this topic, please refer to the Guidebook. It includes a listing of all terms used.
The Ohio Legislature official site. You can create a free account that allows you to target bills and committees. You then will be sent email updates.
Legiscan is an online service that tracks bills. At the concerned individual level it is free. You can register, create a password and list bills you are following. Email alerts are sent when there is movement of the bill.
The Ohio Channel live streams legislative sessions and many committee meetings. Recordings are also available to watch on demand.
How a Bill Becomes a Law - this flowchart tracks the conception of a policy from start to finish, the different routes it may take on its way to becoming a law, and where it may hit a roadblock in the process.